A man tried to assault student leader Kanhaiya Kumar at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) this evening, claiming he wanted to “teach him a lesson” for “abusing the country, raising anti-India slogans”. The man, who is not from the university, was escorted off campus by security.
“The man attacked me amidst all these people. But he was still escorted out of here without any harm,” said Mr Kumar to reporters. “An 11 lakh award was offered for my head, I thought ‘no problem, India is a poor country,” he said, referring to recent posters in Delhi which asked for him to be killed. The man who put them up claims to head an organization called the “Purvanchal Sena” and has been arrested.
Last month, the arrest of Mr Kumar on sedition charges catapulted the government into an enormous controversy with accusations that is trying to crush dissent and free speech at colleges. Mr Kumar, who heads a Left students union, was granted bail and delivered an impassioned speech upon his return to campus with rave reviews for his oratory skills.
He has denied that he made anti-India remarks at an earlier event on campus, but says he will fight what he describes as the divisive policies of the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mr Kumar today also occupied another major controversy with the emergence of a university document that shows he was fined last year for misbehaving and threatening a woman student. Describing his act as “serious in nature and unbecoming of a student of JNU”, university officials fined him Rs. 3,000.
The university has confirmed the letter’s authenticity, claims news agency Press Trust of India. “I am shocked to see how a misogynist like Kanhaiya is being hailed as revolutionary,” the woman who he harassed was reported as saying.
“We do respect the girl’s right to criticise Kanhaiya but we want to reiterate that he has always stood for gender justice,” said a statement from the union that is headed by Mr Kumar.